Giving Compass’ Take:
• On the south side of Chicago, Millenium in Solar and Blacks in Green are forging a partnership to expand access to development training for communities with less access to innovative jobs.
• Naomi Davis, founder of Blacks in Green says that “Blacks represent 15.3 percent of Illinoisans, but 96.5 percent of [solar] jobs are not held by African Americans.” Are there other cities besides Chicago in which a large percentage of communities of color are left out of the green economy?
• Read about the journey of Kiko Davis, the only black female bank owner in the United States.
Brandon House grew up in Hazel Crest, a suburb located in the far south of the Chicagoland region. Now 28, he originally set out to pursue work as a conventional electrician, with less than overwhelming success
“It might just be general labor type work. I might find apprentice level work but that would be it. I didn’t necessarily bring too much to the table as far as skills or what else other people were willing to teach me.” he says. Today, House is not only a licensed electrician but also a solar panel installer certified by the North American Board of Certified Electrical Practitioners (NABCEP).
A mutual acquaintance told House about a six-week solar panel installer training program offered by Millennium Solar. The training combined classroom instruction with hands-on practice, which helped House grasp both theory and practical skills associated with solar panel installation.“After the training, it gave me a tool bag of tools and specialized skills so I was qualified to apply for more electrician jobs whether they be for installers or construction work or maintenance work. It gave me more credibility.”
Millennium Solar will now offer its installer training throughout the Chicagoland area in partnership with Blacks in Green, with support from a grant via the Illinois Future Energy Jobs Act of 2016 to expand and promote jobs training programs targeting residents of low-income communities, ex-offenders and individuals aging out of the foster care system.
Based on the south side of Chicago, Blacks in Green is a nonprofit community development corporation seeking to create self-sustaining and healthy black communities using the new green economy. Its founder, Naomi Davis, has been profiled by the New York Times and Chicago Magazine — which labeled her “The Visionary.”
Getting the state funding represents a major milestone in a long-term goal of Black in Green to leverage sustainability into an economic engine for communities of color and others who typically do not share in the advantages of innovation.
Read the full article about access to green jobs by Audrey Henderson at Next City.
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